All in the genes…..

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I was very surprised the amount of information that could be gained from the NARA. The first request I made was for my ggg grandfather. William R Mckim was in the Union army. William was married to Sidney Isabella Kilgore. I knew that Sidney lived in Mercer, Pennsylvania and had a daughter. I also knew that Sidney died when Elizabeth (Lily) was only 3 years old. When I found William on the list of Civil War soldiers, I decide to send off for his information.

When the mail did arrive about 4 weeks later I was in for a few surprises. There in the packet was a copy of the Marriage License for Sidney and William. To my surprise they had been married, not in Pennsylvania like I had thought, but in Oberlin, Lorain County, Ohio. This then brings the question of why would two people born in Pennsylvania get married in Oberlin, Ohio.

A little more research on Oberlin uncovers the Oberlin College founded in 1833. William had been an artist and I have a couple of his drawings that his daughter had saved inside the family bible that had belonged to her mother Sidney. If he had been a student at the college is still a mystery. Sidney had an uncle that taught music classes at Oberlin. Could this possibly be a reason for her to have been in Ohio? Oberlin has its own fascinating story, one of the first colleges to allow the entrance of African Americans. This may have appealed to Sidney because her family had been a part of the underground railroad through Mercer, county.

Getting back to William, he died in the Battle of Balls Bluff on the Virginia bank of the Potomac River, Oct 21, 1861. Research on that battle would bring you to tears. Union soldiers died by the dozens, forced down over a bank that was as high as 100 feet in areas towards the river and shot down upon by southern soldiers. Many jumped in the freezing waters of the Potomac and drown. More than 250 died and over 700 were taken prisoner.

I still don’t know who William’s family was. That was one of the pieces missing from all of the documents included in the packet. While her father was in the army and after his death Elizabeth (Lily) lived with her maternal grandparents until she was married.

There is a drawing hanging in the hallway of my house; it is a pencil rendering of a rose, signed by William, dated 1857, right before his wife’s death.  I have one of my drawings framed and hanging right above it, my grandfather claimed that William is where my talent came from. We do seem to have some of the same tendencies when drawing…


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